Reye Syndrome Essay

1066 words - 4 pages

Reye Syndrome is an extremely rare, non-contagious disease thought to be triggered by aspirin use. The actual origin of the disease is unknown. Reye's Syndrome, occasionally called Reye-Jacobsen's Syndrome, is known to follow any viral infection. Two of the most common viral infections it precedes is influenza, "the flu", and chicken pox. A now-familiar warning on bottles of aspirin, most notably Tylenol, is not to give Tylenol to a child who is recovering from the chicken pox, a fever, or any other viral infection. The link between aspirin and Reye's Syndrome and is not fully understood, but all reported cases of Reye's Syndrome include a child who has received aspirin before infection.Symptoms of Reye's Syndrome may often be mistook for a recurrence of the flu, or extreme exhaustion. These symptoms include vomiting, confusion, lack of coordination, distorted balance, irritability, a stupor-like state, and a recent infection from a viral illness. The symptoms often begin with vomiting and progress to a stupor and near comatose state. This disease is often found in young children and infants. Over sixty percent of reported Reye's Syndrome cases occur in children under the age of sixteen, with the majority of these cases being in children under six. Although less than five percent of Reye's Syndrome cases occur in people over the age of sixty, the elderly are often the most severely affected, due to old age and weakening immune systems. Infants, while hindered by their young age, can often fight the infections of Reye Syndrome better, for reasons doctors do not yet fully understand. The severity of Reye's Syndrome is classified on a scale of 1-5, with one and two being the onset of symptoms and four and five being the most severe, with the patient being comatose. With the most severe of Reye's Syndrome cases, internal fluid builds up in the brain and there is irreversible brain damage or even death. While the disease is not often fatal, it is essential to treat the disease early. Reye's Syndrome is not contagious, but the diseases that can lead to, such as the flu, and chicken pox, are highly communicable.The first case of Reye's Syndrome was diagnosed in 1963. Looking back into medical journals, there were many "mystery illnesses" that had the same symptoms as Reye's Syndrome, but no cases were positively diagnosed as being Reye Syndrome until this date. The definitive tests for this disease are a liver biopsy and blood analysis. The liver biopsy can help determine the presence of fat and lipid formation in the liver. Upon surgical examination, the liver is slightly enlarged, firm, and bright yellow. This includes some of the symptoms of jaundice, but without the yellowing of the skin and pupils of the eye. There is often bile build-up within the liver, and fat formation on the liver walls is always present. The blood test can detect the presence of ammonia and acid within the blood. The failing liver will produce these chemicals. There is also a...

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